A Toast to Dag…

…and to all nonconformists and free thinkers around the world.

Invitation from SG Hammarskjold

“All of us, in whatever field of intellectual activity we work, influence to some degree the spiritual trend of our time. All of us may contribute to the breakdown of the walls of distrust and toward checking fatal tendencies in the direction of stale conformism and propaganda. How can this be done better or more effectively than by simple faithfulness to the independence of the spirit and to the rights of the free man to free thinking and free expression of his thoughts.”
—-Dag Hammarskjold

More Photos from the U.N. Plebiscite to British Togoland, 1956

Here are some more photos that Vlado took, while acting as Observer to the United Nations Plebiscite to British Togoland in 1956; which includes some of the fantastic architecture he saw there.

(For greater detail, please click on photos to enlarge)

British Togoland Plebiscite 21

British Togoland Plebiscite 20

British Togoland Plebiscite 19

British Togoland Plebiscite 18

British Togoland Plebiscite 17

British Togoland Plebiscite 22

British Togoland Plebiscite 27

British Togoland Plebiscite 26

British Togoland Plebiscite 24

British Togoland Plebiscite 23

British Togoland Plebiscite 25

British Togoland Plebiscite 31

British Togoland Plebiscite 30

British Togoland Plebiscite 29

British Togoland Plebiscite 28

Before It Was Ghana: Photos from the U.N. Plebiscite in British Togoland, 1956

In 1956, Vladimir Fabry was assigned as Observer to the United Nations Plebiscite in British Togoland; which would vote to join the Gold Coast in May of that year, and on 6 March 1957, would become part of Ghana – the first African nation independent from colonial rule. Exciting, hopeful times for Africa, and Vlado was lucky to be there, to be a part of it.

The first three photos are from the UN photo collection, showing Vlado at work. The other photos are of the people Vlado met while he was there – the future independent people of Ghana. In two of the photos, you can see a man making Kente cloth on a loom – amazing!

(click on photos to enlarge)

Vlado and R West Skinn British Togoland May 56

Vlado British Togoland April 56

Vlado and Jan Van Wyck British Togoland April 56

British Togoland Plebiscite 1
British Togoland Plebiscite 2
British Togoland Plebiscite 3
British Togoland Plebiscite 4
British Togoland Plebiscite 5
British Togoland Plebiscite 6
British Togoland Plebiscite 7
British Togoland Plebiscite 8
British Togoland Plebiscite 9
British Togoland Plebiscite 10
British Togoland Plebiscite 11
British Togoland Plebiscite 12
British Togoland Plebiscite 13
British Togoland Plebiscite 14
British Togoland Plebiscite 15
British Togoland Plebiscite 16

Like Father, Like Son

Curve of Longing For Family
One thing I really admire about Pavel Fabry, is how affectionate he was in the letters he wrote to his family. Here is a little sketch of Pavel’s, with him in a hospital bed, a graph behind him that says in Slovak “Curve of Longing For Family”. The doctors are saying they have no cure for this “curve”, and Professor Fabry says he thinks a “Javaensis-Genevensis” tincture is what he needs. This was likely drawn during the late 40’s – early 50’s – when Vlado was working for Independence in Indonesia, Olinka and Maminka were refugees in Switzerland, and Pavel was in a hospital recovering from torture in a concentration camp, in the now former Czechoslovakia. Pavel’s sense of humor here shows he was living life on his terms, that he followed his convictions, and that he was willing to endure suffering for a just cause – a true romantic.

Fall in Love and Lose Weight
Then there are times when I am a little annoyed with him, like with this undated letter, sent to Vlado around the time he was working on the Suez Canal Clearance project in 1957, most likely before the project was finished. Pavel is telling him that he has to lose weight in two weeks, before their family vacation together (which would end with Vlado coming down with Hepatitis, and the weight loss that came with his illness). Then he says with all the tempting food of the Norwegians, Swedes, Canadians and Indians in the desert, that he would have to ride a horse at full gallop all day just to keep fit. He gives Vlado the advice to fall in love to lose weight, but not too happily, so he doesn’t fall apart at the end of it. Really, as if Vlado didn’t have enough to worry about, he has his father telling him he is too fat and needs to go on a diet! He is right though, that falling in love is great for weight loss, but he must have thought Vlado had some kind of superpowers to find a girl to fall in love with on the spot!

If Vlado was a romantic, it was because Pavel set quite an example for him. Romance was never far from Pavel’s mind, as can be seen in this little boudoir sketch (click to enlarge):
Pavel boudoir sketch
What is she whispering in his ear, I wonder?

Sometimes, thoughts of love and food were in competition, like in his surreal sketch of a fish woman:
Pavel La Peche

Keeping to the subject of romance, in another post, we read the love letters of Vlado and Mary Liz, with the last letter written in September 1957. There are no more love letters written by Vlado after that, but I found a portion of a Mr. America magazine, from January 1958, with a cover banner that reads “USE YOUR SEX URGE FOR BUILDING A HANDSOME BODY”:
Mr. America Jan. '58

Who knows if Vlado was trying to control his “urge”, or what, but romance may have been distracting him from larger goals in his life. I think Pavel was not much different than Maminka, in that he wanted Vlado to find a nice girl to marry – but I also think he took vicarious pleasure in hearing about Vlado’s carefree romantic life as a bachelor.

Vlado left some heart-sick women in his wake, as is shown in this last letter from 1959, written by a woman who wasn’t over Vlado at all, and whose impending marriage brought to mind funerals and drowning. This letter is more a distress call than anything else, which makes it a very funny read!

March 4, 1959

Dear Vlado,

Now it looks as if I may be in NY at last, but for the most unexpected of reasons – on a honeymoon! Probably, April 12-25.

I’ve been so interested to notice in how many ways marriage is like death! First, probably the only reason so barbarous a rite as a wedding has lasted so long in our streamlined society is probably the same reason the funeral has – i.e. sociologists say that all the transactions involved in planning a funeral take the bereaved’s mind out of the depths & the same goes for the bride, bereaved of her freedom!

Marrying is also like drowning in that you suddenly relive your past – at least your past loves & all my former boyfriends have come parading their images across my minds eye – & I must say, Vlado, that as I go through my card file, choosing addresses to send announcements to, each card brings up a little doubt, but the most difficult card to process was yours! Isn’t that funny, because I had dated other boys a lot more than you & I was just as inflamed over them.

It’s just that when I think of me settling down to air force protocol (he’s in for 10 more years!) I think of your verve; & when I think of those forever churning conversation on the base about TDY’s, PFR’s, ER reports etc., I dream of the day you, Otto & I went to the woods and captured those flagstones in such a unique way!

When I ask my 3 F’s (friends, family, fiance) what they would think of my sort of going to NY to get my trousseau & choose my silver pattern & all, they retort “and get that Czech at the U.N. out of your system? You’d never come back.” I shall always wonder if I couldn’t have made you come crawling & writhing out of your shell (if there’d been time) like a tortoise does when the Indians tie him above the fire so he will squirm into the soup pot! But my fiance says I’d better marry him without travelling to NY, because regrets are better than despair….

This stationary is a memento from our bi-family conclave to plan the bash (it will be April 11 at the ——City Community Christian Church – I dare you to come & stand up when the preacher asks “If there be anyone who denies that they should be married…”). His family is from Texarkana, long time friends of my folks, but we conclaved on neutral ground – in Fayetteville!

I do hope some sort of wife won’t open this letter, although I’m sure she would be understanding; otherwise she couldn’t have married you! But just in case I wish there was something I could say which would make me sure you’d know who sent the letter, so I wouldn’t have to sign my name, but I have a strong suspicion that you’ve taken many a girl hiking in the rain, driven her to help her pack on Bank Street – & even many admirers have sent you wooden pigs & sustenance pills when you were in Africa! So I’ll just have to say,

so long,

———–

Letter From Pavel To Vlado, 28 May 1946

Here is a very special letter, written by Pavel Fabry to his son Vlado, when he learned that Vlado was leaving for the U.S. to join the United Nations Secretariat, in 1946. My sincere gratitude to the friends who translated this for me.

Zurich 28/V/946

Our Dear Vladinko,

It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life when I read your [one word cannot be deciphered] telegram. I don’t know if it was so constructed that even I could understand it – but I think it was God’s blessing that made it possible for me to understand it word for word.

I know that one of Maminka’s eyes was tearing with pleasure and the other with the worries of a mother (but I know she will carry even this sacrifice for you thankfully) – when I conveyed the telegram to her over the phone.

And throughout my trip in the heights of the airplane I was thinking of you – for in a few weeks you too will be flying…and not into the unknown.

The entire world is opening up for you in the real sense of the word. I have been in my room for only a few minutes and already am grabbing a pen, so that at least this way you can feel how warmly I hug you and bless your future journey.

Perhaps it is The Almighty’s way of rewarding you for having been such a good son to us, that so far you have followed the course of life that made us proud and that he wants to reward us for all the parental love and worries which we have always and at every step shown toward you, just as to our other child, Olicka!

Vladinko dearest! Cherish this gift – it being merely one link in the chain of your life, which was wrought by a lot of hard work.

And I beg you – while you are still at home, donate as much time as possible to your dearest Mother (who donated the biggest part of her life to you). She first of all deserves it in full measure.

Hopefully God will help to make it possible for her to visit you in your new lovely position – even with Olicka!

I pray that The Almighty bless your journey and keep you in good health and strength – for the honor and glory of your nation – and for our parental happiness.

With kisses for you from your Tatusko

Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 1
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 2
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 3
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 4
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 5

And here are three more documents pertaining to Vlado’s appointment with the United Nations: A confirmation letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague; an application for a non-immigrant visa from the American Embassy in Prague; and last, the letter of appointment from the United Nations, signed by Trygve Lie.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs UN confirmation 1946

American Foreign Service visa application 1946

Vlado UN letter of appointment

Police of America: Stop Killing Black People!

“I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”

Those were the last words spoken by an unarmed Michael Brown, before he was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer; according to the testimony given by Dorian Johnson, who was with his friend, and saw him murdered in the street. What makes me believe every word he says, what is so very telling, is that the police refuse to listen to his testimony. Does anyone notice how the testimony of African-Americans are automatically treated with suspicion, especially in cases of police brutality? I have no illusions about the racism in America, the poison of slavery this country was built upon is still present.

This is what I want to see done: Cameras on every police officer, always on – dash cams are not enough. They have made it a crime to record the behavior of our police, but they do this because they know they are in the wrong. They can’t control us through fear if they know they will be held accountable for their behavior – if their deeds will be seen by all – and that is why we must demand for all police to wear cameras. Then there will be no question of who is right and who is wrong, and we can have the peace that comes with REAL security.

UPDATE: I found this link to change.org with a petition to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to “Make the NYPD Adopt On-Body Cameras”, in response to the choking death of Eric Garner; which I encourage everyone to sign. Here are excerpts from the petition, written by Neill Franklin of White Hall, Maryland:

“Other police departments are using on-body cameras with amazing success. In the first year after the Rialto Police Department in California adopted the cameras in 2012, the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent compared with the last year. More importantly, the use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent.”

[...]

“On-body cameras protect communities from police misconduct, and they also protect the officers themselves from violence. This is a system that benefits everyone, and will help restore community trust in the NYPD. I have more than three decades of experience serving as a police officer and training new officers. I strongly believe that this is one of the best possible ways to prevent senseless deaths like Eric Garner’s as well as violence and false accusations.”

UPDATE 2: I highly recommend this article written by Greg Howard “America Is Not For Black People”. From the article:

“After Brown’s death came his demonization. First, we heard that Brown had run for stealing candy from a store. Then we were bombarded with a photo of Brown in a red Nike tank top on a stoop, posing for the camera.

This photo, in which Brown was flashing a “gang sign”—a peace sign, actually—was presented as proof that the teenager was a thug; his friends and family now not only have to work through their grief, but against a posthumous slur campaign. Johnson described his friend in an MSNBC interview as cool and quiet. Brown’s uncle, Bernard Ewings, said in a Sunday interview that Brown loved music. Brown’s mother, Leslie McSpadden, said that he was funny and could make people laugh. He graduated from high school in the spring, and was headed to college to pursue a career in heating and cooling engineering. Monday would have been his first day.

By all accounts, Brown was One Of The Good Ones. But laying all this out, explaining all the ways in which he didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street, is in itself disgraceful. Arguing whether Brown was a good kid or not is functionally arguing over whether he specifically deserved to die, a way of acknowledging that some black men ought be executed in the street.”

[...]

“To ascribe this entirely to contempt for black men is to miss an essential variable though—a very real, American fear of them. They—we—are inexplicably seen as a millions-strong army of potential killers, capable and cold enough that any single one could be a threat to a trained police officer in a bulletproof vest. There are reasons why white gun’s rights activists can walk into a Chipotle restaurant with assault rifles and be seen as gauche nuisances while unarmed black men are killed for reaching for their wallets or cell phones, or carrying children’s toys. Guns aren’t for black people, either.